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Success is often random... something just "clicks"...

  • Oct 14, 2012
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Business books that purport to offer up the key to success are a source of frustration for me. Take a company like Apple or a leader like Jobs, analyze it/them, and come up with a five step plan to replicate their outcomes in your situation... easy to follow and results guaranteed!

Not so much... The problem I have with those books is that, while the information may be sound, they ignore the multitudes of unknown failures... companies, ideas, and decisions that *didn't* work out. The outcome isn't necessarily directly related to the steps taken or the method follows. Sometimes success is random, based on a moment in time where something just clicks. Frans Johansson does a good job in making that point in his book The Click Moment: Seizing Opportunity in an Unpredictable World. There's a lot to be said for remembering that not every outcome is rational or logical.

Part 1 - An Unpredictable World: The Moldavian Theory of Success; Serena's Secret; The Nokia Mystery; The Twilight of Logic; The Conspiracy of Randomness
Part 2 - Seizing Opportunity: The Three Random Moves of Diane von Furstenberg; Click Moments; How to Create Click Moments; Purposeful Bets; How to Place Purposeful Bets; Complex Forces; How to Harness Complex Forces
Epilogue; Acknowledgments; Notes; Index

I got the most from the first part of the book. Johansson does a great job (in my opinion) in explaining why success in business doesn't work the same way as the process explained in Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers book. 10000 hours of practice works when you're dealing with a skill where the rules are set, finite, and don't change much. Personally, I also think it only works in individual pursuits. In business, interactions are complex and change frequently. Click moments occur when unrelated or chance moments happen and someone puts together two concepts that didn't occur to anyone else. Howard Schultz changed the direction of Starbucks when he visited Milan and saw the role that coffee houses played there. Nike took off when a running coach poured latex on a waffle iron to make a spikeless tread for running shoes. In a less known example (at least to me), Microsoft was betting on OS/2 until two programmers met at an MS party and made fixes to an "unfixable" version of Windows, turning it from a dying software project that was fatally broken to the operating system that defined desktop computing. These click moments don't follow a five step plan or guarantee on-going success. They happen, and you have to be ready to act.

Part 2 of the book explains how to structure your business and cultivate a mindset that allows for more click moments to occur. There are ways you can allow for more interactions and encounters that might cause click moments. Johansson calls them "purposeful bets." I agree with that general concept, but there still seems to be a tenancy to "prove" these bets work by pointing out examples where they did. I'm certain there are people who have tried to make these moments happen, yet no breakthrough events occur. It still comes down to randomness. You can increase your chances but you can not ensure success.

Even though I don't think it's necessarily a "perfect" theory, I think The Click Moment comes much closer to explaining "business success" than many other books and frameworks. I'd recommend it as required reading to get a more accurate view as to how life and business really works.

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About the reviewer
Thomas Duff ()
Ranked #42
Thomas Duff, aka "Duffbert", is a long-time member of the Lotus community. He's primarily focused on the development side of the Notes/Domino environment, currently working for a large insurance … more
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“In a world where random events increasingly rule our destinies, forget logic. Invite chance, then maximize it. With highly engaging and enter­taining style, Frans Johansson shows us how.”
—Peter Sims, author of Little Bets
“Johansson wonderfully captures the strategy of any startup . . . maxi­mizing click moments and, through them, ideas that change the world forever.”
—Eric Klinker, CEO of BitTorrent
“Frans Johansson is both a master storyteller and one of the most inno­vative thinkers I know. The Click Moment begins as a shocker, showing that we can’t really predict much in a world that is becoming increasingly complex. Then, after shattering our illusions of control, Johansson gives us powerful tools for placing good bets in business, in everyday life, and even in love.”
—Teresa Amabile, Edsel Bryant Ford Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, and coauthor of The Progress Principle
“With his characteristic clarity, insight, and style, Frans Johansson presents an absorbing account of how randomness, serendipity, and “luck” can be used to enhance success in business and in your own life. A fascinating plunge into the rip tides and cross currents of chance and opportunity that so often affect the course of human achievement.”
—Sir Ken Robinson, New York Times bestselling author of The Element
“There are very few moments that change the ...
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